How to pay commission or profit share from your WooCommerce product sales

Updated January 20, 2021

AdapPymntRolesApp_BOne of our WooCommerce clients recently asked us to set up her WordPress online shop to automatically pay a profit share to her business partner.

Most WordPress e-commerce websites accept payments to a single source only. Typically, a WooCommerce store will integrate with a single PayPal account, to which all payments received via the website are sent. This client wanted a percentage commission or profit share to be automatically paid to a second PayPal account for specific products only.

WordPress plugins for WooCommerce profit share or commission

We initially thought that this would involve some bespoke WordPress development work involving WooCommerce and the PayPal API. However we found several WordPress plugins that met the requirements exactly. I guess that's not surprising given that 2,500+ WooCommerce add-ons are available in 2017.

These plugins work using a feature called PayPal Adaptive Payments. It lets you split a PayPal payment (e.g. from a WooCommerce product order) to multiple recipients.

There are 3 main WordPress plugins for using PayPal to pay a profit share or commission from your WooCommerce orders:

All of these plugins do largely the same thing. They all integrate PayPal Adaptive Payments with WooCommerce. They all split PayPal payments to multiple recipients using a choice of methods. These are Chained Payments, Parallel Payments or Standard Simple Payments. (Read the plugin documentation for definitions, as it's quite complicated.)

Although all 3 plugins looked fine and had quite good reviews, we chose the official WooCommerce extension. This is because it's safer to purchase plugins from a single company. WooThemes developed both WooCommerce itself and the PayPal Adaptive Payments plugin, so if we had any problems then they would have to take responsibility and couldn't blame the other developer. This is always a possibility when you combine plugins by multiple developers. Price-wise, the official plugin was the middle of the 3 options.

Our solution

We purchased the PayPal Adaptive Payments plugin and read the documentation, which was quite complex. Chained Payments was the best method for our client as it allows the commission to be automatically sent to our client's business partner without the customer knowing that this is happening.

We set up the plugin to work with WooCommerce products in a specific category only. The customer would pay via PayPal. It would look like their PayPal payment was going a single recipient. But behind the scenes, a 'Chained Payment' effect would kick in. A percentage of the payment was sent to our client's PayPal account and a different percentage was sent to her business partner. Perfect!

What's the catch?

The only downside is that PayPal Adaptive Payments are complicated. The fact that there's a plugin available doesn't make it easy to set up. We had to do a lot of fairly technical work to set everything up correctly. This included creating a PayPal App and submitting it to PayPal for approval. There were also several hoops to jump through such as providing PayPal with details of our client's business plan. (Because they wanted to check the payments were being used suitably.)

If you have a WordPress website and want Adaptive Payments, you'll probably need a WordPress web developer or agency to set it up. It's a great option if you want to automate more complex payment arrangements with PayPal.


  1. Bianca Rodrigues
    January 19, 2021

    Hi, I'd like to use something similar for my website so I can pay out vendors and send a commission to my account. Given this is fairly technical and I have limited time, I wanted to know if I can hire you for a few hours to set it up. Feel free to email me and we can chat further. Great post!

    • Edge
      January 20, 2021

      Hi, Bianca.

      Thanks for your interest and the kind words. I'm sorry, this isn't a service that we provide.

      The easiest way to find someone suitable who can help you with your requirements is to post a job on Codeable where their pre-approved WordPress experts will send you a quote. We have partnered with them to provide plugin customization for our customers and can also assist you with this.

      I hope this helps point you in the right direction. Let me know if you have any other questions. You can also contact us via our Support Center.

  2. Salman zia
    August 12, 2020

    I have designed a restaurant website. Taking payments through stripe. Is there any way to get commission on each sale into my account as a developer.

    • Edge
      August 12, 2020

      Hi, Salman. Thanks for your comment. I'm afraid were not aware of any equivalent plugins that allow you to split payments to get commission via Stripe. If you do find any, I'd be interested to hear of your experience with it and so we can share this info with anyone else who might be looking for the same.

  3. Enrico Massetti
    January 19, 2020

    Hi Katie,
    I have this website on tango products: books, videos, CDs, and other music. It's really a directory, it's not an online store. I list ALL the products that are available in the world that fit in the category. Several editors of the books I list have already granted me a sale commission when I get a sale for their product from my site. I have to accept the payment from the customer though. It has been working very well for years, but it's a time-consuming manual procedure: Get the Paypal payment from the customer, forward the order and the money (less commission) to the editor. It's not worth the time I have to spend doing it. My website is in Wordpress, can you recommend a plugin that can do the job automatically for me? In case nothing is ready, could you be available to develop one that does it, and what would be your price to do so?
    Best regards,

    • EJ
      January 21, 2020

      Hi, Enrico.

      For what you describe, I believe the PayPal Adaptive Payments plugin mentioned in this article should be suitable to use.

      For any additional bespoke/custom development needed, and if you don't have a developer who can do such for you, then I recommend that you post a job on Codeable where their pre-approved WordPress experts will send you a quote.

      Many thanks,

  4. Andrea
    February 22, 2018

    Thanks Katie, this info is helpful. Are you aware of any apps that do something similiar, but per product? So, for example, if my company makes a product, that can be customized, and I wanted to partner with various other companies / websites and allow them to sell a customized version (custom to their brand) on their own site, the plugin enables them to embed and sell product on their site and either splits profit or at provides sales data, so that it can be split by parties accordingly? I'm thinking something that works more like an affiliate app in that it doesn't necessarily need to split the actual money, but just provide a fair accountable way for both parties to track resulting sales, and ideally allow the product to be embedded with a snippet of code. Any help appreciated! Thank you. :)

    • Katie Keith
      February 22, 2018

      Hi Andrea, you can use the PayPal Adaptive Payments plugin on a per-product basis. If you don't want your website to actually split the money in this way then it's worth looking at multi-vendor plugins that let you pay commission and track sales, or perhaps an affiliate plugin as you say.

  5. Amir Hasan
    June 6, 2016

    Very helpful post. Thanks!

  6. Sukanta
    April 22, 2016

    I was also searching for profit sharing system but in my country (India) paypal payment is not available also transaction costs are too high. Even no other payment gateway can do this job in India as I know.
    I am using a multi-vendor setup for woocommerce (dokan plugin) and have an affiliate system Wp affiliate manager and I know about WooCommerce Revenue Sharing Addon for WPAM.
    My situation is I need to set a higher rate of commission for all the products a specific vendor sells who was referred by that specific affiliate. Referral to buys not mandatory.
    For example Affiliate "A" refers a vendor "V" and that vendor sells multiple products like "P1","P2" etc. Whenever any customer purchases "P1", "p2" etc the affiliate "A" must get say 10% of selling price (ignoring any coupons, discounts etc). I am stuck in this situation and any help would be great as I have seen somehow similar situation here. I shall pay the commission amount manually by bank transfer if no gateway options exists.

    • Katie Keith
      May 1, 2016

      Hi Sukanta, I'm afraid I don't know off the top of my head if you can do this with other payment providers. It would certainly be fairly complex to set up. If you have high sales then it might be worth it, or if not then I agree that it's best to do it manually.

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